Political Bodies, Part 2 (Featuring She's All Fat)
Published October 6, 2017.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. We are back to talk more about bodies in the world and the way some bodies are politicized differently. This one is from a new podcast called She's All Fat hosted by Sophie Carter-Kahn and April Quioh.
Aminatou: Part two in our series of asking awesome podcasters to fill in the air on our show.
Aminatou: Hey girl!
Ann: We're still on vacation. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Hey girl! Come see us Saturday, October 21st at the Woman's Club of Minneapolis.
Ann: And yeah, all the details and links to tickets, you can find it at callyourgirlfriend.com/events. Hey!
Aminatou: Where in the world is Ann San Diego?
Ann: Ann Diego, please. [Laughs]
Aminatou: [Laughs] You know, if I'm perfectly honest, I don't even know what Where in the World Carmen San Diego is beyond just the name.
Ann: Oh my god, I was obsessed with that computer game as a kid and it's like the only reason I learned world capitals, no thanks to you.
Aminatou: Let me stop you. I did not know it was a computer game. [Laughs]
Ann: It was also a TV show but I had a computer game version and that's like the only reason I know most world capitals outside North America.
Aminatou: This is hilarious. Yeah, it's been on my America to Wikipedia list but keeps getting pushed down to the bottom.
Ann: I understand. It's not modern-day urgent, I mean except I feel like every Halloween someone goes as Carmen San Diego in just a trench coat and a hat and I support that.
Aminatou: I know. I always -- before my English was very good I was always like that's girl Waldo.
Ann: Girl Waldo. I love it.
Aminatou: It worked out really well.
Ann: You know what, though, like totally from the same time period of my childhood and the same type of wholesome children's entertainment, it's 100% exactly that.
Aminatou: I can't believe this is the game -- like you guys had a game to teach you world capitals. That's fun. That's more fun than just having to learn them out of the book.
Ann: Listen, I didn't leave the country until I was well into adulthood so thank you Carmen San Diego. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Listen, I'm a geography beast so I would've slayed that game.
Ann: I know. It was so good. Okay, for real, we are still gone. We are back to talk more about bodies in the world and the way some bodies are politicized differently. This is not a comprehensive set of episodes on this topic but I feel like it's one of those things where whenever we talk about our bodies, about women's bodies, about marginalized bodies, people are into it. We get a lot of mail about it. And so I'm happy to devote another episode to the subject.
Aminatou: Yes. And so this is part two in our series of asking awesome podcasters to fill in the air on our show.
Ann: This one is from a new podcast called She's All Fat hosted by Sophia Carter-Kahn and April Quioh who are some L.A. gals I know and like very, very much.
Aminatou: They're total babes. This picture of them that I've seen on the Internet kills me.
Ann: Their portrait game is so good, when I look at their Instagram account which I believe is @allshesallfatpod, all I think about is how you and I need to do more Sears Portrait Studio sessions together/magazine/catalog shoots. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Listen, you know, it's honestly that's a thing -- it's an area we're lacking in but we're going to work on it. 2K18 goals.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: Like good portraits.
Ann: 100%. So anyway, the podcast which like I said just started in September -- it's brand new -- they say it's the podcast for body positivity, radical self-love, and chill vibes only.
Aminatou: All things I support.
Ann: I know, right? So first we asked them to talk a little bit about their definition of body positivity but I think -- and I would love to hear your thoughts on this too -- that it's one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot even though the sort of more political aspects of it are often not brought to light or it's one of those things that people might use as a catchphrase but might not understand or have internalized all the principles behind it.
Aminatou: Oh, 100%. This is why I'm super excited about this segment and I'm excited that we're talking about this because people love to use like feminist catchphrases and refuse to do the work to know where it all comes from. And body positivity is definitely one of those things where it's used for everything from like "Oh, I ate too much but it's okay because I'm body-pos," to ridiculous ladies at gyms saying weird things to you and then being like "That's body positivity too!"
Aminatou: One of the things that is I think really important is realizing that all of this stems from radical feminist politics in the '70s. And so feminism is not about choice; it's actually a political movement. So you do all the things that make you happy, but if you're not doing political work then, you know, get out of the kitchen because it's too hot for you.
Aminatou: But I feel like we sound like those whatever people think like older, second-wave feminists are who were always like "The kids, they don't know anything. They don't read anything. They don't understand." And I think to some extent that's true. But also you have access to the same Google as we do.
Aminatou: Like I'm glad that people like Sophie and April will generously do the work for us but a lot of this stuff is available out there.
Ann: Totally. Okay, so turning it over to Sophie and April for some real talk about body positivity.
Sophie: I'm Sophie.
April: I'm April and this is She's All Fat.
Sophie: The podcast for body positivity, radical self-love, and chill vibes only. If you'd like to join us for conversations about pop culture, feminism, and body justice subscribe to us on iTunes and you'll get a new episode on your phone every Thursday. So who are we?
April: We're two writers and friends living in Los Angeles and we're both fat. I'm black and you're white and we're both into televisions, smoothies, and fashion.
Sophie: April, do you think one day we could be like a fat Ann and Aminatou? Do you think they could be our Through the Looking Glass mentors, like us if we had everything together and wore vintage fashion and were bicoastal and into tech startups?
April: No, Sophie, that's weird.
Sophie: All right, fine, but maybe one day. Anyways, we're such huge fans of Call Your Girlfriend and we're so excited to be a part of it.
April: Now that we thoroughly stand for Amina and Ann, let's move on to our main discussion segment The Meat of It.
Sophie: The Meat of It. This week we're giving the CYG fam a primer on body positivity. So what is body positivity and why does it exist?
April: Please tell us. We want to know.
Sophie: Well we do know.
Sophie: So I'm taking this quote from Melissa Gibson's master thesis that she released online. If you can find her on Instagram, @yourstrulymelly. And she defines body positivity as the following: started by fat women for fat women, the body-positive movement originally sought do dismantle and nuance the powerful common narrative of the fat body through the visual representation of those that were marginalized because of the way they look. So what does that mean? Basically she's saying that body positivity is about taking images and discussions and showing up for fat bodies and other marginalized bodies as a way to change the public discussion about those bodies and try to fight for justice for those bodies.
April: And even though it seems like with popular culture and journalism this idea is brand new, it's not new is it?
Sophie: No, it's not new. It developed from specifically fat liberation movements in the 1970s. There were a lot of groups like The Fat Underground or other smaller collectives in Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco that did things like create zines and have meetups. Then it moved on in the '90s to groups like The Body Positive which is still a website. You can go look at their group. They do like workshops and speaking things. And now it's trickled down to kind of more individual-level grassroots work on blogs and Tumblrs and Instagram accounts which is probably how most of the listeners of today's podcast have heard about body positivity.
Ann: Totally. So if you've ever heard the hashtag #FUBeautyStandards, what else are the good ones?
Sophie: Like there's #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies. There's like -- even all the curvy ones I think basically come from this. It's like #CurvyCutie or like #BikiniBody or whatever.
Ann: Yeah. If you ever saw a chubby girl on Instagram in a bikini and she's like #ILoveMyself . . .
Sophie: It's from this.
Sophie: [Laughs] So April tell me more about body positivity. What are the goals of body positivity?
April: Okay, there are a lot of goals, a lot of hotly-contested goals, but the main ones that most people tend to agree with is that, number one, disrupting the status quo. So about this idea that a thin, white, cis, Aryan body is no longer the goal for everyone and there can be a whole bunch of different types of bodies and they're all equally chill. Other goals are tearing down the oppression of different types of marginalized bodies. So of course a lot of the big part of body positivity is fat bodies, but there's also if you live in a black body you're marginalized; if you live in a disabled body you're marginalized. And all that's covered under the body positivity umbrella with the goal of ending that oppression based on the body that you live in.
And some other goals are health-related. There's a lot of marginalization that comes with the health community and with trying to go to the doctor. A lot of times doctors will pass a lot of personal judgment against you and make it seem like it's science.
April: So they're like "You look like you're going to get diabetes," when really it's like I don't have diabetes.
Sophie: Yeah. What's the weirdest thing you personally have had a doctor bring up fatness about that you went to the doctor for?
April: The weirdest one was one time I took a school strip to . . . took a school trip.
Sophie: A school strip?
April: What's a school strip, April?
April: We took a school trip to Doha, Qatar. And of course immediately after touching down . . .
April: Yeah, we had like a spring break. Okay, so it's this thing where you apply to go just for the week of spring break to visit. We have a sister campus there. Northwestern has a sister campus there.
Sophie: Okay. This is college. I was like this is like a high school?
April: No, this is college. No, not in my public high school. No way. No, in college you take a school trip to Doha, Qatar. And of course immediately after landing I have a fever.
Sophie: Oh my god.
April: [Laughs] This happens to me every time I travel, I'm like sick. So I felt like I had strep throat or like a cold or something, just lots of stuff happening. So I go to the doctor and the doctor's like "Here's your amoxicillin. Also you probably wouldn't have gotten sick if you weren't so fat." And I was like number one, I'm in the emergency room in a foreign -- I've never left the country before.
Sophie: Oh my god.
April: You're not my primary doctor. He just said "Well, you've got a cold but if you weren't such a fatass . . ."
Sophie: Oh my god.
April: And I mean there's no rules against that. That's totally acceptable. And I was just like okay and left. It happens all the time if you're in a fat body.
Sophie: That happened to me in France except they also made sure to note that it was probably because as an American I had a weak body used to air conditioning.
April: I mean fair though? [Laughs]
Sophie: I was like -- I mean okay but . . .
April: Like fair? Low key but still rude, like truly.
Sophie: Yeah. That's kind of just a little sampling of in our lives some things that have made fighting against fat oppression so important. Like we basically need to work on the way that society talks about fat bodies and other kinds of marginalized bodies even for just things like getting access to healthcare.
April: Totally, because that somebody's personal prejudice about your body could get in the way of you living a healthy life.
April: Like truly doctors will not further explore your issues. They're like "Oh, your neck hurts? It's just because you're fat." Then you have cancer.
April: Happens all the time.
Sophie: I know. I found out this year that I have no less than three autoimmune diseases that doctors for years were just like "It's probably because you're fat."
April: You're fat. Or they'll be like yeah, fat people just have lupus. It's like what?
Sophie: It's really ridiculous.
April: That's not backed up by science at all.
Sophie: My god.
April: So we would love to end that, this political movement. That'd be great.
Sophie: Yeah, let's end that. So some common sayings in the body positive movement are things you might've heard like all bodies are good bodies which is kind of a distillation of that idea that everybody deserves respect and everybody deserves to be able to move through the world and be treated as a valuable human being. And also just like this is a broader feminism thing but the personal is political, so your personal experience -- our personal experiences walking through the world in these bodies -- are political and we are committed to fighting for political justice for our bodies and the bodies of all of our sisters and fat fam.
April: Absolutely. And I think it's also important to note here -- it's important for us to say there's a difference between body positivity and self-love.
Sophie: Oh, for sure.
April: Like self-love is this idea that you should love yourself -- it's in the term -- and that you should look in the mirror and not feel like I need to change to meet some sort of standard and I think that's so important but it's separate from this political idea of can I move through the world without having challenges thrown at me just because of how I look? Yeah.
Sophie: Because self-love has nothing to do with whether or not your body's going to be legislated out of existence.
April: I think I'm very cute but I still walk in the doctor and he will only pay like two minutes of attention to me and that has nothing to do with how I feel about myself.
Sophie: Yeah. They're for sure interrelated. Like for example, you know, in my personal experience this last year it was only when I really started practicing self-love that I was able to really advocate for myself and for my body. But like they're definitely not the same thing. I think it's really important for us to repeat that distinction as much as we can because I know a lot of people who have reached out to me and been like "Oh, I really agree with body positivity but I feel like I'm not a part of it because I struggle with loving my body."
April: Totally. I can see why there's a misconception because body positivity sounds like you're positive about your body.
April: I get that. It might just be a marketing thing. But yeah, it really is important to be like I'm going on two journeys. One is to love and appreciate myself. Two is to dismantle the oppression of my marginalized body.
April: Separate walks. Together but separate.
Sophie: Yeah. I mean I think that that, just the phrase of it, I kind of wish we could create a new term like body justice or something because calling it body positivity has really allowed it to be kind of coopted recently by just people being like "Oh, body positivity is just like liking yourself and being positive." It's like no.
April: Yeah, I could see how you thought, especially from the images on Instagram, I can see how you're like "I have cellulite but I love it. I'm body positive."
Sophie: Right. No.
April: It's like an overly simple look at it. So we would love on our show to get more and more into the nitty-gritty.
Sophie: Yeah. Especially in just even that specific example. I have cellulite but I still love myself. It's like the body positive -- the true body positive take -- is cellulite's not bad.
April: Yeah. Like let's stop associating any sort of anything but perfect as some sort of moral wrongdoing or something.
Sophie: Yeah, because it's definitely not like I'm ugly but I still love myself. [Laughs]
April: Totally. It shouldn't. That's bad.
Sophie: Okay, so let's talk a little bit about diet culture.
April: Get into it.
Sophie: So yeah. So in this interview with two fat body-pos icons, Marie Southard Ospina and Elise [0:18:27] they're talking about diet culture, what it is, how it affects everyone, and Marie Ospina said this quote that is a pretty good summary of what diet culture is. She says "It's promoting the idea that weight loss is a cure-all to every possible ailment physical or psychological. It promises us that a smaller body will lead to a happier, more-fulfilled life." So in general diet culture is like the set of ideas that help make everyone in our culture believe that number one, achieving like a Barbie body is possible. Number two, that that's a morally right thing to do. And number three, that the perfect, healthy body is thin.
April: Exactly. So for example you know how on January 1st when you turn on the television and it's a woman holding her previously large pants and she's like "I used to be in these huge pants but now I'm not."
Sophie: And she's standing in like one side.
April: Yeah, she's standing in one side of the big pants.
Sophie: I hate those.
April: She's like "Yeah, now I finally an living life. Before I was just drowning in my own fat." And then it's like do you want to continue drowning in your own fat? Or do you want to be in half of your jeans? Click here. That's an example of diet culture.
Sophie: Oh my god.
April: Because it's kind of tying into like new year, new you. You can be successful. Somehow weight loss is an achievement.
April: Like all of these ideas, perfect examples of diet culture. And trust us, it's everywhere.
April: Truly everywhere.
Sophie: It's also everywhere just because low-key, hope the CYG audience is cool with socialism because we're . . . [Laughs]
April: Get into it, okay? Free healthcare. What's good?
Sophie: Diet culture is pretty much propped up by capitalism, especially in America where we have all of these beliefs about like if you try hard enough you would succeed and if you don't then it's . . . you know, if you don't succeed in whatever way you're trying to make it then it's your own fault for being poor or black or whatever. You know what I mean?
April: Or like no willpower. Bootstrapping your own body. It's all about this whole you can make it work idea that is not a reality for every single person.
April: So in our little segment today on CYG we would love to explore one huge example of someone that is constantly participating in diet culture and that is the one and only Oprah Winfrey. The Big OW.
Sophie: That sounded like a mega truck rally. [Laughs] You're like Monday, Monday, Monday.
April: Monday, Monday, Monday. OW, come into the back.
Sophie: Oprah, fighting against Gayle and Stedman in the big rally of the century!
[Music and ads]
Ann: So that's incredible, they are incredible, but here's the great part. We asked them for that and then they also gave us this bonus conversation about Oprah specifically which, I mean, they must know that you and I will devour anything related to Oprah and are obsessed with hearing about what's up. So it's about Oprah's complicated relationship with bodies, Oprah's weight, and the ways Oprah has been publicly talked about and the way she has chosen to talk about her body, her weight, and like what she's trying to do to change her body. I think it is one of those complex issues about a woman who we are pretty much in love with. [Laughs] But also can recognize that there are some fucked-up things going on here.
Sophie: April, who do you think is the biggest, most iconic perpetuator of diet culture right now?
April: Sophie, there's only one answer.
Sophie: Who is it? Is it me? Did I do it?
April: Say it with me, Sophie.
Together: Oprah Winfrey.
Sophie: It's Oprah. It's Oprah.
April: Oprah Winfrey. It's Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah: I want you to know that whatever diet you choose, and this audience is filled with people who've had great successes, you can do it with the help of your family doctor. And if you can believe in yourself and believe that this is the most important thing in your life as Scott said to us earlier, you can conquer it.
Sophie: When is that clip from, like the '80s?
April: Yes, that is a late-80s clip. So on Oprah's long-running show a lot of the segments and episodes had to do with her own personal weight loss journey. Oprah's always been really open about her weight fluctuating up and down and has kind of used the narrative of losing weight as a way to gain happiness, to gain fulfillment and self-fulfillment and has always been a big proponent of tying those ideas together. So the clip you just heard is from the infamous fat wagon incident. Do you know about the fat wagon?
Sophie: I've seen like pictures of it when I've seen other body-pos people write about how Oprah both is trapped in these yo-yo diets and she's constantly like "This time I can do it!"
April: Totally, yeah. This is the perfect example. The fat wagon was the show went off the air for a summer. Oprah went on an all-liquid diet. She came back to the new season and had lost 70 pounds.
Sophie: Her teeth had grown all the way out. She wasn't grinding them down every day.
April: Truly. So to celebrate she had her producers gather bits of animal fat from all over the city of Chicago.
April: And put it into a wagon, and the fat weighed the amount she had lost. So she wheeled out this wagon and said "Look at the fat I've lost. You guys can do it too," basically.
Sophie: Oh my god.
April: That was the time when I think Oprah stepped into this identity of I'm going to be on with you guys on this weight loss journey through the show.
April: And then also later on in her career she has noted that this is one of her biggest mistakes. Oprah doesn't say regrets because everything happens for a reason.
Sophie: Great. It's like how Bachelorette doesn't let you say process. They say journey.
April: Yeah, you say journey. It's like that. So there's no regrets but this is one thing that she would've done differently because it did kind of introduce this idea of now I'm happy. Now I'm self-fulfilled because I'm thin and you can do it too.
April: And she also went on record saying the night they filmed this segment she went home and binged and like ate for the first time in three months and she gained all the weight back super-fast.
Sophie: Jesus. I mean I'm sure that's not the first time she had gone through this cycle; it was just the first time she was like I'm going to be public about it.
April: Yeah, and almost be like . . . she also said later she regretted it because she felt like she was bragging, because that was the first time that she's like "Success!" Like she said weight loss is a success. She stepped into that narrative.
April: It has long followed her.
Sophie: It's haunted her.
Oprah: A lot of you already know that what I did was I fasted for -- without cheating -- for a solid six weeks. And Mary K. who is a producer on the staff here got married and I said to them when I first started this liquid protein supervised -- medically-supervised fast -- I said to them when I went in with a counselor that six weeks into this I know that I'm going to eat something because I'm giving the wedding and paying for the food and intend to eat it. And so I did. I cheated, but it was controlled cheating halfway into the diet. But up until six weeks I ate absolutely nothing.
Sophie: It makes me sad that she feels the need to say without cheating. Like it's so . . .
April: You're not eating. How is that cheating? You're hardly eating any food.
Sophie: Yeah. Well she's just saying she's so trapped in the idea that eating food is bad that she's like "I didn't cheat! I promise."
Sophie: Like this is so sad.
April: It's so sad. And that incident inspired so many people to do the same thing which is get a doctor to agree to put you on an all-liquid diet, and so many women went through it with her where they lost a bunch of weight, took a picture, immediately gained it back because you have to eat food to be alive, and then continued to go on this cycle. So fast-forward to today, Oprah's one of the richest women in America, still struggling with her body image.
Sophie: It's truly crazy. She's the most successful person.
April: She can't escape it. Like think about anything you could ever want, Oprah has it, but she's not thin and so she's not happy.
Sophie: She has a boyfriend and a girlfriend. [Laughs]
April: I mean hey, allegedly, come on. We're not trying to get sued.
Sophie: But she's still -- how many times has she been on the cover of O Magazine like in her fat self and then her new thin self? It's like even on the cover of her own magazine.
April: Totally. And she'll point to her old self and be like "Ew, who's that?"
April: It's you six months away. It's still you.
Sophie: It's so sad.
April: It's so sad.
Sophie: I'm like do you have these collected somewhere? You've done like five of them Oprah. Like it's okay. You're fine.
April: But she doesn't think that, and I think that that is just the biggest example of how pervasive our problem in this country is that the most successful woman in the country is still like "I would rather be thin than be anything else."
April: Than be a female billionaire. It's bananas. So fast-forward to today, last year it was big in the news that she bought 10% of Weight Watchers and the money that she invested doubled overnight and so now she's even richer. Now Oprah is a partner with Weight Watchers and you may have seen a lot of commercials like this.
Oprah: I love bread.
April: Oprah loves bread, everybody.
Sophie: Same. I love bread too.
April: I love bread too. So basically she's in these -- which let's just note, every other Weight Watchers commercial is very scripted.
April: And she's like "I'm not reading a script. I'm going on there talking about how I love bread for 20 minutes and you're going to use this as your ad campaign." And they're like "Okay, Ms. Winfrey. Whatever you want."
Sophie: Who was that?
April: That was Mr. Weight Watchers. [Laughs] "Whatever you want, Miss."
Sophie: Are you like saying Mr. Clean? He's just fat? [Laughs]
April: She's allowed to do whatever, because remember Jennifer Hudson? She had to do choreography and sing a song. Oprah's like I'm sitting on my personal couch talking about bread. You can fuck off. [Laughs] So you may have seen those commercials. Now Oprah is on once again not a process but a journey of weight loss with Weight Watchers.
April: So she's doing a lot of press where she says things like "It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. This is a forever thing. It's changed how I think about food."
Sophie: Can we play that clip?
Oprah: Weight Watchers actually has given me the tools because everybody who's done a diet, you know that you promise yourself and then Monday -- by Monday afternoon -- you say "Okay, I'll start Tuesday." And so there's always something coming up. So Weight Watchers has actually, these past two months, given me the tools to have accountability to myself. So so far today I've probably had, oh, when I was in the car it was 17 points. So it means I have now 13 points left. I get 30 a day. And it really depends on your weight, your size, whatever. And so I know I can now have 13 points left for the day.
Ellen: So it works? All right.
Sophie: That is so triggering. As a former Weight Watchers person . . .
Sophie: Like literally I just -- that whole mindset. Number one, it's so sad to me. Every time . . . not that anything about Oprah is sad. She's fine. She's a billionaire.
April: She's a billionaire, yeah.
Sophie: She likes picks rutabagas from her garden and then throws them at her cook. Like she's fine.
April: But then she says it's fennel. [Laughs]
Sophie: Yeah. Like she is out there saying "I now have accountability to myself." Like she's so committed to seeing her body as a failure, she's like "Finally someone will force me not to be a terrible dieter." The whole Weight Watchers system, if people don't know, the science points to food and then you get to have a certain number of points a day and it's based on how much you weigh, how much you want to lose per week, how much exercise you do, how old you are. There's this whole part for if you're pregnant which is like fucked up. Nobody should be on a diet when they're . . .
April: They let you do Weight Watchers . . .
Sophie: Oh yeah, and breastfeeding.
April: Oh I guess because it's a lifestyle.
Sophie: Yeah, exactly. So it doesn't teach you anything about nutrition. It doesn't really teach you anything about health because when I was doing it I did that exact same thing of being like okay, I had one slice of cake. That was 15 points. Now I have 13 points left for the day. I'm going to have half of a bite of pizza. That'll be six . . . like it's not . . .
April: There's no like value if you have veggies?
Sophie: Veggies are like zero points.
April: Oh, okay.
Sophie: It doesn't tell you. It doesn't encourage you or teach you. It's like you can -- if you're still thinking about weight and eating in this messed-up way, it does not help you get out of that at all. So she's sitting there like "Isn't it great? Now I know how much I'm allowed to eat the rest of the day."
April: Allowed to, like the lunch lady told me how much I'm allowed to.
Sophie: Right. It's like that doesn't get into like, you know, what does my body want me to eat? What would feel good to eat? What would be nutritious to eat?
April: How does my body respond to eating certain things?
Sophie: It's just about control.
April: And I also think the important thing to note here is when Oprah says she likes something that means millions of women across the country are like "I'm doing that too."
April: I mean Oprah is a super Christ-like figure in this country.
April: So that's how come the stocks got so valuable as soon as she touched it. And it's like Weight Watchers was on a downswing and now they're doing a little better because Oprah's bringing her followers along with her.
Sophie: Oprah and Weight Watchers are like that painting on the Sistine Chapel. She's like reaching out to Weight Watchers.
Sophie: She like touches it with her finger and Weight Watchers is like "Stock! Bank, bank, bank, bank."
April: It's so true.
Sophie: Also if anyone is interested in reading more about Weight Watchers through the years specifically you should check out Taffy Brodesser-Akner I believe is her name. Really good long-form piece in The New York Times in August of 2017 this year.
April: Yes. It kind of talks about how wellness is a trend now.
April: And if you really dig under wellness and under clean eating those are all just synonyms for dieting. But kind of the diet culture in general is being rebranded. I mean Oprah and the new version of Weight Watchers are a huge part of that.
Sophie: The whole juice cleans fat wagon thing and Weight Watchers, it's like she's literally trapped in the same loop. Like you can hear her trying to say like "It's going to be different this time." But like even just the way that she talks about points in that clip on Ellen, again, a black woman and a gay woman, they're the hosts of their own shows. Very powerful, very rich. And they're still like "How can I eat less? Help me!"
April: Totally. And those clips are 30 years apart.
Sophie: It's crazy. So both of those approaches are just about how can I eat less? How can I restrict myself and control myself? She hasn't really like, you know, if weight loss were really about "health" the way a lot of commenters say it is then you would be like "Hey Oprah, let's talk about what fuels your body." Not like "Let's talk about how we can make calories into this weird thing called points."
Sophie: "And you can pretend that you're doing great math."
April: It's interesting to think about the fact that she is using the same language these 30 years apart because part of her brand is this idea that y'all are struggling with your body. I'm struggling with my body. Let's go through it together. Like if Oprah woke up one day and she's like "You know what, ladies? I'm not on a diet today. Today I'm eating what I want to do." She lives in this enchanted fairy garden. "I'm going outside and picking a fruit, I'm doing whatever I want, I'm happy, and I'm not mad at myself for my body," think about what a different . . . she could change the cultural climate just by saying something. I mean Oprah is so powerful. But her whole brand is based off of relatability which of course means so much to so many women.
April: But it also means she's sharing this toxic part of her life with all these women who look up to her. And so it's just kind of like . . .
Sophie: If Oprah bought 10% of Body Positivity . . . [Laughs]
April: We've got to trade the movement and give her the stocks.
Sophie: For real, though. Yeah, I mean Oprah's whole thing is not being perfect. It's about like I'm going through this. I'm learning as much as you. But it's also like, you know, she has launched the careers of all these experts, like notably white male experts like Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil who are both like quack central.
April: Dr. Oz might be a doctor. Dr. Phil is not a doctor.
Sophie: I know. Also he's divorced. Not that you can't be a therapist and get divorced, but Robin was always walking out there like "Hi, we're so happy." They were not. They weren't happy.
April: They weren't. He had hoes.
Sophie: I'm just saying that bald head was not cool.
April: Not chill. Not chill. And yeah, just think about . . .
Sophie: The bald head is fine. I'm just saying he's a bald-headed man.
April: Bald head. Yeah, I mean Oprah is responsible for so much of our United States economy which sounds crazy.
Sophie: It's true though.
April: But it's so true. I mean Dr. Oz, think about how much he blew up after he got that seal of approval from Oprah.
April: They had this long relationship that ended up ending when Congress invested him for saying stuff like "I have a miracle weight loss pill," or "This fruit is like a magic fruit. It'll help you lose weight." Which is just bullshit. So he goes to talk to Congress and he's like "Well when I said magic, I didn't really mean magic." And then overnight Oprah cuts ties with him. But think about the amount of damage that had already been done at that point, because when Oprah says she likes something all these white ladies in the Midwest are like "Me too!"
April: And then they give them their money and it could be damaging long-term.
April: And that's the thing is Oprah, she is our auntie. She's not trying to hurt us, but it's just about these personal struggles she has turn into real impact on other people's lives because of who she is.
Sophie: Yeah. It's hard too because like, you know, I don't want at all to say like Oprah has to be perfect. Like Oprah has to have like a good -- "good" approach to body positivity and if she doesn't talk about everything in exactly the right way then fuck her. Because that's not true at all. It's just that I, you know . . . Oprah is so powerful and successful, like iconic, amazing. And I just know how powerful it would be if she could embrace herself as she is.
April: So true. And the thing is Oprah is allowed to go on whatever journey she wants but if she could stop using the language of the skinny you is trapped inside of the fat you and start using language like this is who I am today it would change so much. So here's just an example of some of the language that Oprah has been a big proponent of.
Oprah: Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be. Many times you look in the mirror and you don't even recognize your own self because you've got lost, buried, in the weight that you carry. Nothing you've ever been through is wasted. So every time I tried and failed, every time I tried again, and every time I tried again has brought me to this most powerful moment to say "If not now, when?" I feel that way and I know millions of other people feel that way. Are you ready? Let's do this together.
April: Oprah's not fat. We should've said that from the jump. I think Oprah at her biggest was like 200 pounds.
April: You're not fat. So you're trying to change your body into something that it's resisting you for a reason, number one. Number two, I just wish intellectually that you would get to the point where you're just examining the language that you're using. Like I don't like the idea that the fat me is a different me.
April: Even if I lose weight I think it's still me and I don't want to shit on the fat me because it's still you.
Sophie: Well it is just like, you know, the way that she says that really says the real you is your physical self. Like your true self is inherent in how small you are, and if you're big then it's hiding the real you. Like sorry, you're the same person if you're fat or you're thin.
April: It's a really scary way to think of yourself also in these little boxes of like real me, temporary me, future me. I think people are just themselves and they could change but I think that's kind of the point of this whole thing is just being able to accept yourself whatever phase, whatever journey your current body is at.
Sophie: I mean it's also just like Oprah's the best example of how much of a waste of your fucking life it is to be part of this because . . .
April: She's been traveling the world. Again, I just want to clarify, she is the richest woman in California. Oprah Winfrey could buy a planet, okay?
Sophie: She could do whatever she wants.
April: And she's on a treadmill like it sucks.
Sophie: It's just like how -- you know, if you've struggled with this, if you've struggled with dieting and body positivity, if you've felt the tension between those, if you've ever done one of these diets, you know it takes up 80% of your mental space for the day.
April: It's a full-time job. I think that's what people don't realize when they shout at me on the street like "Hey fatty, go on a diet." It's like it takes six hours a week to meal prep. You have to buy all these organic foods. Sometimes you have to weigh your food on certain diets.
April: I don't have time for that. I'm on the hustle, you know what I mean?
Sophie: It's a lot. It's also, I mean, it's also just like diets don't work. This is proven over and over and over and over.
April: #DietsDontWork. It's all a ruse. Diets don't work. Spoiler alert.
Sophie: I mean, yeah, and also diets don't make you healthier. What they do is mess up your metabolism.
April: Because diets aren't one size fits all.
April: It just seems obvious but it really is not. It's very clear to people in this country that that does not make sense to them.
Sophie: I mean, yeah, shout out here to Health at Every Size.
Sophie: Which is a great resource for people who want to learn more about how health practices and healthy practices can be distinct from losing or gaining weight.
Sophie: So like for myself I know -- I started going to a nutritionist this year for my GI issues. I feel way better. It has nothing to do with my weight.
April: At all.
Sophie: It's about what I'm eating. And I'm always going to be fat, spoiler alert.
April: Totally. People think that you cannot be fat and healthy. It just does not exist at the same time.
April: Meanwhile there are Olympians who are fat and they're like peak athleticism. And also I shouldn't have to prove to you that I'm healthy.
April: It's none of your business.
Sophie: You can be skinny and unhealthy and . . .
April: Yeah. You all know that girl. Don't front like you don't know that girl. She's like "I love pizza!" and you're like "Katie, you've never had a glass of water." She's like "I only like Gatorade." She's unhealthy so get off my back, okay?
Sophie: Katie's never had a real peach. She just uses the peach emoji every day.
April: Yeah, it's just like a peach ring but bigger. Like I don't know what that is. She's constipated. Katie is constipated. I have bowel movements regularly. You don't know me. [Laughs]
Sophie: I was going to say like just that clip of her, it's so . . . it's so engrained in me now. Like even now that I'm like fuck everyone, blah, blah, blah, she was saying how many points she had left for the day. And in my head my first thought was you had a big lunch.
April: You know the points?
Sophie: Because I know -- I know the points.
April: I never did make . . .
Sophie: I know how much she weighs based on how many points she said she could have. You know what I mean? It's just like you know. Anyone who ever says you're not trying hard enough and that's why you haven't lost weight, or you need to educate about calories, I know the calories of every single thing I put in my mouth.
April: A banana is 120 calories, 20 carbs.
Sophie: It's crazy.
April: Don't fuck with me.
Sophie: A banana when I was on Weight Watchers was two points and an apple was one point. But they've changed it up because of fructose.
April: We know it all. Yeah, we know it all.
Sophie: Yeah. I don't know, dude. If Oprah cannot escape body image issues and she's like a billionaire how do we do it?
April: Listen. We're going to break through it on She's All Fat. Please join us. We're going to dismantle this fat patriarchy. It's not patriarchy.
Sophie: For sure it is. For sure it is.
April: Just the word fat patriarchy seems weird.
Sophie: It's kyriarchy, dude.
Sophie: The kyriarchy is like -- it's like the cool word for patriarchy. It's like . . .
April: Wait, am I saying it right? Kyriarchy?
Sophie: It's K-Y-R. Kyriarchy. It's like just . . .
Sophie: You're dumb.
April: [Laughs] Oh, thank you so much.
Sophie: Kyriarchy is a word that means like the intersection of various types of patriarchy essentially. So it's like patriarchy plus capitalism plus all other kinds of oppression or whatever. So it's like all those things together are kyriarchy. It's like the opposite of intersectionality.
April: Okay, so Oprah's behavior is an example of the kyriarchy?
Sophie: For sure.
April: Sweet. I'm glad you just taught me that new vocab word even though you were so mean to me while you did it.
Sophie: Sorry. You were just looking at me like I was insane.
April: I've never heard this word before. So even though Oprah is a problematic fav we don't want to be too harsh on her.
Sophie: No, we love her.
April: She's still the love of my life. I know everything about her. That's why we did this episode.
Sophie: I think a lot of people had the same experience I did which was my mom and I watched Oprah every day after school. And we would talk about what happened and we would talk about what we could learn from the episodes or we would talk about emotional things because of what was on the episodes. It was like a special thing that we did and Oprah was -- it was like she was hanging out with us, you know?
April: Totally. I mean I'm a black woman who works in media. I'm sure you could ask literally any other black woman who works in media. Oprah means the world to us.
April: None of us could do anything if it weren't for Oprah being on TV, being herself, being loud, being opinionated, and knowing what she wants to create and actually being able to execute it. Like she means the world to me.
April: I know every single thing about Oprah Winfrey. Did you know her middle name is Gail and her best friend's name is Gayle? Did you know that?
Sophie: I did not know that.
April: We'd love to hear your opinions on Oprah and diet culture. Tweet us your thoughts at @shesallfatpod on Twitter or tag us at @shesallfatpod on Instagram. She's All Fat is created and hosted by us, Sophie Carter-Kahn and April K. Quioh.
Sophie: If you liked what you heard subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. For more information on our show or if you're interested in learning more about body positivity check out the resources on our website www.shesallfatpod.com.
April: We've collected writing by some amazing women of color and fat activists, books on the theory behind body positivity, and some practical aids like Deb Burgard's work on Health at Every Size or Justin and Stanley's Body-Positive Yoga Practices.
Sophie: Shout out again to CYG for living and breathing shine theory on a daily basis. We love you guys.
Aminatou: Listen, I am terrified of being a part of this conversation because I am still holding out hope that Oprah will adopt me. So . . .
Ann: I mean . . .
Aminatou: I am not opening this can of worms. [Laughs]
Ann: This is the ultimate copout though to be like this is an important issue. We're going to let these brand new podcasters open this can of worms for us.
Aminatou: Yeah, I'm like not talking shit about Oprah. And, you know, her Weight Watchers commercial. Because I know that the very important issue with Oprah is her fake farming.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us, email@example.com, or on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn, original music composed by Carolyn Pennypacker-Riggs, and our logos are by Kenny Shesnede. This podcast is produced by the wonderful and amazingly-dressed Gina Delvac. See you later, Ann Diego! [Laughs]
Ann: See you on the Internet. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Did I get it?
Ann: Yes, you got it so right. I'm tipping my wide-brimmed hat to you right now.